I bought a lottery ticket Sunday morning. I haven’t done that in years, not since the lottery started probably. Just on a whim really, because it was a roll over – fifty-two million. Don’t win if you don’t play, do you? So I picked six numbers, off the top of my head. Seven and Nine, because of Star Trek (sad, I know). Then fourteen, because that’s my birthday. Thirty-three, my age. Then forty-four (house number where I used to live – I live at number thirty-three now so I had to use the old one), and finally number forty-seven because… well, why not? I didn’t have any numbers in that column yet – that’s as much thought as I gave it. I grabbed a pint of milk, the paper and a pack of bacon, paid for the lot and went home.
Sundays for me these days are pretty much sitting around, reading the paper. Maybe a movie later if there’s a good one on. There’s really nothing else to do in this town, these days.
I keep thinking about moving out, just quitting the job and getting gone, but it’s not possible. Too much debt, too many bills. The mortgage alone is seven hundred. One pay cheque gone and I’m in trouble. Big, big trouble.
Monday was a boring day. The same old, same old. There’s an old joke, and I think it might have originated with Monty Python, about accountancy being the most boring job in the world. Well, trust me, it isn’t. You should try being a “quality coordinator”. In essence, my job involves sitting in an office, reading automated reports and entering figures into a spreadsheet. That’s about it. Then these spreadsheets go off to middle managers who don’t read them unless I highlight in the accompanying email that things are down by five percent or more, year-on-year. And then I usually get a nastygram asking why they weren’t warned sooner. The stock answer being, of course, that they haven’t read a thing from me for six months. I almost relish that as the most exciting part of the job, if I’m honest.
Tuesday wasn’t more exciting. Cathy from whatever department she’s in (I’ve no idea which, I only ever meet her in the kitchen) broke the Disney mug her kids gave her when trying to make coffee. I’m still not sure that wasn’t on purpose.
Tuesday evening it picked up. Quite a bit. I made a point of watching the lottery show, you see.
I’ll lay it on you. You already know what’s coming here, so I’m not going to draw out the agony for you. I’m not going to say that I waited with baited breath as each number came out. I basically thought “that’s a tenner… that’s fifty… that’s – how much is that… oh, six.” I didn’t jump up and down. I didn’t get excited. I just said to myself “that’s nice”.
It didn’t really hit me until the Wednesday morning. I had six numbers. Six numbers. On the lottery. Fifty-two million, if nobody else won it. I put the radio on in the kitchen while eating, but there was nothing on the news. How many years has it been running? So many they don’t bother making it a headline when someone wins it any more, if truth be told. It’s only when they win over a hundred million or the person has won it twice or something that it makes the news.
I walked to work feeling good. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I’d already decided I wasn’t going to tell anyone. I’d also decided that this was going to be my last day at this job, one way or another. But how? I’d read about someone whose resignation letter was essentially having a poop on the boss’s desk, but that’s not me. Besides, it would get the police involved, and I don’t want that. That also ruled out stealing, punching someone, tipping water over the boss or my computer, or any sort of damage. No, I was going to have to get creative somehow.
I walked up the road, past the big factory with the elephant mural on the wall, and up to our office. Got myself buzzed in and went up to the third floor.
I basically sat there all morning, doing as little work as possible and trying to think of what to do to get myself fired. About half past eleven, my boss walked past me, on the way to his cozy corner office and his old school tie flapped out of his jacket. And a thought hit me. It took a moment’s preparation.
“Excuse me,” I said, standing up.
He turned round and walked a little bit back to me. As usual, I had to get up and walk to him.
“What is it?” he asked.
“I was just admiring your tie,” I said, and grabbed it in my hand. The other hand came up and I quickly stapled a piece of paper to it.
I quit, it said.
I smiled, turned and walked back to my desk and sat down to shut down the computer.
“What the hell is this?” he screamed. “What have you done to my tie? My school tie! I had it when I went to Eton! I’ll have your job for this -”
He looked over at me, but by that time I was putting on my coat. I grinned, broadly, and left the building.
There wasn’t silence behind me. A couple of people were clapping, but that stopped fairly quickly. I expect that icy death stare he specialised in had something to do with it.
Fifty-two million, I remember thinking. It made me feel warm inside, happy, contented even. For the first time in years, things were going well.
I stopped off at the corner shop. I bought an outrageously expensive bottle of champagne, some nice wine, smoked salmon – luxury things.
“Having a party?” Dan asked.
“Just splashing out a bit.”
“No, just felt like it.”
“Nice,” he said. “Be nice to win that sixty four million at the weekend, could live like this every day.”
“Sixty four million?” I asked. “On Saturday?”
“Yeah,” the junior Mr Singh replied, turning round from stacking shelves. “Nobody won it yesterday, innit?”
“But…” I opened my wallet and passed over the ticket.
Dan looked at it for a few moments before passing it back.
“That must be so gutting,” he said.
“Not really,” I said. “I don’t get it. What do you mean?”
“Seriously?” he raised an eyebrow.
I was starting to sweat now. Dan pointed at the bottom of the ticket.
One draw. Saturday the 16th…
Apparently, although I don’t remember it, I fainted.
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